Goodrich Transportation Company

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The Alpena
The whaleback steamer S.S. Christopher Columbus at the Goodrich docks in Chicago, Illinois (stern view).

Goodrich Transit Line or Goodrich Steamship Line or Goodrich Transportation Company or Goodrich Transit Company was a passenger steamship line operating in the Great Lakes region, principally in Lake Michigan in the 19th and early 20th century.


The line was founded in 1868 by Albert Edgar Goodrich (born ca. 1825-1826, Buffalo, New York — 1885).[1][2]

Goodrich merged in April 1868 with the Engelmann line, run by Nathan and Michael Engelmann.[3]

The line leased the S.S. Christopher Columbus in 1899 and operated it Chicago-Milwaukee excursion service for more than 30 years.[1] Many other ships were operated including the Menominee, Muskegon, Chicago, and Milwaukee (many of the ships were named after cities serviced).

Goodrich was involved in controversy. More than one Goodrich vessel was lost due to shipwreck. The SS Alpena was lost in October 1880 en route from Grand Haven, Michigan to Chicago, Illinois, and a subsequent investigation took the company to task for poor equipment condition and poorly trained crew.[4]

The line was involved in a case versus the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1912, ICC v. Goodrich Transit Co., 224 U.S. 194 (1912), which went all the way to the United States Supreme Court.[5]

On February 4, 1915, the steamer Iowa (built in 1896 on the hull of the Menominee), on its way to the Port of Chicago with the Racine (belonging to Chicago Racine & Milwaukee Steamship Company), sent a radio message at 4:15 a.m., as she was about three miles out, that she had encountered heavy ice. The ice was especially bad that winter with ice freezing up to 25 miles from the port. She had been doing okay, under the command of Gerald E. Stufflebeam, as she approached the ice clogged harbor, until the wind shifted then she was crushed by the ice at 10:00 a.m. As the Iowa sank about two miles out, the 1 passenger and 45 crew left the ship and took refuge on the ice. They started walking toward Chicago as rescuers headed to meet them, including city tugboats.[6]

Goodrich went bankrupt in 1933 and its operations ceased permanently.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Biography of A. E. Goodrich". History of the Great Lakes. Retrieved 2008-02-06. 
  2. ^ "Goodrich, Albert Edgar 1826 - 1885". - Dictionary of Wisconsin History. - Wisconsin Historical Society.
  3. ^ Hilton, George Woodman (2002). - Lake Michigan Passenger Steamers. - Palo Alto, California: Stanford University Press. - p.296. - ISBN 978-0-8047-4240-5.
  4. ^ "Sailing In A Rotten Steamer". Oswego Palladium,. January 5, 1881. Retrieved 2008-02-07. .
  5. ^ "Vol 224: ICC V. GOODRICH TRANSIT CO., 224 U. S. 194 (1912)". - U.S. Supreme Court Center - US Supreme Court Cases & Opinions. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  6. ^ "ICE SINKS LAKE STEAMER.; Crew of 45 and a Passenger Make Their Way Over Floes to Shore". - New York Times. - February 5, 1915.
    —Hilton. - p.265,287.
  7. ^ Ewing, Walter K. (1999). A Chronological Directory Of Industries, Businesses, And Other Organizations In Northwest Ottawa County 1808-1975 (PDF). Grand Haven, Michigan: Tri-Cities Historical Museum. ISBN 0-9652300-2-3. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 

Further reading[edit]

Red stacks over the horizon; story of the Goodrich Steamship Line. by James L. Elliott. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1967.